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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Best Minds of My Generation

By On April 30, 2013
The one thing that gave me hope for my generation was our cynicism. We might not believe in anything, but at least we wouldn't believe in everything. We might be apathetic, but that just meant it was harder to enlist us in causes. We didn't just march to the beat of our own drummer, we questioned the need for having a drummer and a beat. We were burnt out on everything and done with it all.

Of course it wasn't really like that.

Generation X became obsessed with authenticity the way that the Baby Boomers had with realization. Reality TV overseen by Baby Boomer producers and catering to Generation X combined the two and made it seem revolutionary. The Baby Boomers may have given us navel gazing music, but Gen X's obsession with authenticity gave us grunge and rap as their defining genres.

In its on way, Generation X was as narcissistic as the Boomers. It just didn't want to be seen that way. Like the Baby Boomers it was obsessed with selling out, but in a generation that had already sold out, it had no one left to sell out to and nothing to buy. The worst Boomer excesses rejected tangible accomplishments for narcissism, but by the time Generation X got to it there was no longer a culture with tangible accomplishments, only a long slide downhill.

Generation X was born into Weimar Germany. It came of age among decadence. And its own decadence, its sour obsessions, its media skills, set the stage for another generation that would be defined by the media. It would no longer be obsessed with authenticity. Instead it would embrace its own inauthenticity. Defined by the media, it would see fakeness as the true test of reality. Born in a life defined by the image, it would treat the ability to recognize and subvert the fourth wall of the audience, the recognition of the unreality of reality as the ultimate form of reality.

Each generation further fragmented what was already broken. Each spent far too much time looking into mirrors. Each had undeniable talents and skills, but employed them in a way that was autistic, disconnected from others, giving up the culture of builders for a lonely life as craftsmen, hobbyists learning to make small things while letting the big ones go to rust.

There is something medieval about our world. A strange dazzling house of technological mirrors filled with the caves and straw huts where hermits make their own homes and every hundred people become their own community. Connectivity has disconnected physical communities, torn down towns and nations and replaced them with online communities making for a world that is defined less by family, neighborhood or even work, and more by the movies you like and the celebrities you hate.

The Boomers laid the cornerstone of that world when the culture began breaking up with nothing to replace it, but Generation X built much of the rest of it out of its eccentric talents and social unease. It was left to its successors to properly populate it with a broken culture coming together around nothing.

Generation X wanted to be defined by taste. Taste was the thing it thought was lacking in the Baby Boomers who were creatures of many enthusiasms, embracing the terrible and the tacky for the sake of novelty. Generation X wasn't going to settle and it didn't. It is still unsettled. Many of its members are unmarried, childless and still looking around for a world that suits them. Like the Boomers, they want the ideal, but the ideal can only be found in the flaws of the real world that they tore apart.

Some Baby Boomers had developed a penchant for abusing their generation as the one that wrecked the country and some Generation X'ers couldn't help but join in. But it's a simplistic picture that doesn't entire hold up. The static image of frozen generations divided by fundamental characteristics is a simplification of a more fluid reality.

The line between Generation X and the Baby Boomers is blurred. Generation X was what the Baby Boomers were becoming in the shards of their own culture. The Millennials are what Generation X became lured by its solipsistic siren song. Generationsim fragments each generation further until we have generations not of decades, but of years. And looking back, it is easy to see not a dozen generations, but only one generation.

The problem did not begin with the Baby Boomers. Each generation only takes up the qualities of its parents. The flaws and triumphs of each generation can be found in subtler forms in the preceding generations. The 70s would not have existed without the 50s or the 20s or for that matter the 1890s. Every obscenity and absurdity, each form of irresponsibility and depravity, has its origins in prior generations.

The collapse of social mores, bizarre interests in the supernatural, a fascistic obsession with government power and complete economic irresponsibility all happened before in American history. There was no Tabula Rasa out of which evil was born. The evil came, it was suppressed or survived, and then it rose again. It is tempting to look back and imagine a perfect past that became corrupted, but that perfect past didn't exist. What did exist was an ongoing struggle in which the bad did not succeed in destroying the good and in which the good passed on its qualities to the next generation.

Look back enough and you find that the heroic generation of pure men and women were considered a band of scoundrels and rapscallions by their forebears. And usually they were right, not because we were in an inevitable state of decline in which each generation was worse than the last, but because change churns out different qualities, bringing both bad and good to the surface.

The collapse of America is largely a failure of education. Not the education of the behemoth systems which transmit the latest politically correct nostrums from degenerate academics drunk on their own theorizing at the hands of incompetents with Master's Degrees and union entitlements, but the passing of values from one generation to the next.

The growth of the media made that difficult. The rise of the state collapsed the notion of the family. The world in which the virtues of the healthy family and the larger culture did not contradict each other is gone. The two are at war and each succeeding generation is born into a world in which excesses and eccentricities are no longer marginal, but defining.

The Baby Boomers became the defining point because for the first time each generation became actively hostile to the future. They embraced ideals over realities and destroyed realities in the process. The narcissism of each generation made the demand of an ideal, on their behalf or on their own behalf, second-nature. It became routine to call for a world without war, without hunger or without any of the other realities of life and to expect that someone would deliver it.

That ideal world was never delivered, but the real world was torn apart trying to deliver it. Interest in the real incremental future diminished while an obsession with changing the world into something perfect by letting go of reality increased. Media exposure weakened the walls between the real and the ideal. Natural disasters looked like special effects. Ordinary people became famous. Famous people became ordinary.

While the family is the province of the real, the media is the province of the unreal. Generations raised by the media were being raised to seek out unreality and to live unreal lives. That is the legacy not only of the Boomers or the Gen-X'ers alone, but of the generations that preceded them. The growing influence of a collective culture that made the ideal seem real, that encouraged everyone not to sell out, to seek self-realization, the authentic experience and the deconstructed everything, killed the real future and replaced it with an unreal future of fantasy politics, fantasy economics, fantasy values and fantasy people.

Idealism and cynicism are flip sides of the same narcissistic coin. The search for the ideal sometimes brings back beautiful things, but in an entire culture it only produces a decaying self-obsession. In a culture where everyone is an artist, no one is an artist. In a society where everyone shatters taboos, there are no taboos left to shatter. In a world where everyone is searching for truth, there is no truth.

That is the beautiful ugly world we made. A world enraptured with its own preciousness while giving no thought for the future.

Obama is the perfect intersection between the two generations, idealism made cynicism and cynicism made idealism, the authenticity of the fake and the reality of the unreal. He doesn't belong to any single generation. He is the fluid transition point between Generation X and the Baby Boomers and also the Millennials. The decay he represents transcends generations. To believe in him is to believe in everything and nothing except the empathy and cleverness that makes each of us a better person.

A narcissistic culture besotted with its own reflection is bad news for the future. Those who spend too much time looking in the mirror rarely have time to gaze out the window.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Big Fat Red Line

By On April 29, 2013
Someone chalked a long red line along the street outside my building. The line is sloppy, it turns, wavers and meanders. Car tires have already rubbed it pink in places and dogs have done to it what large four-legged animals do naturally when taken out of the confines of narrow apartments. The line turns a corner and dives inside a pothole near an exposed sewer grate. And then it is gone.

Obama's red line is more famous than my red line. It appears in the Washington Post and the New York Times. There are reams of speculation over what the nature of the red line is, whether the red line has been crossed, what Obama should do about the crossing of the red line and how many devils can dance on the edge of a red line while juggling Sarin canisters.  

Despite being much more famous, Obama's red line matters about as much as the one in front of my building. It's there one day and gone the next and no one really cares.

The red line, the famous one in D.C. is meaningless. It exists because politicians and reporters expect it to exist. It's a necessary optical illusion that convinces them that Eisenhower or JFK are still in the White House and that the United States of America is a rational world power with standards on truly important matters such as human rights and the percentage of cow flatulence that is to be allowed to ascend into the atmosphere.

Obama's red line never existed. It was the sort of thing that Obama occasionally said because people expected him to say it. Chemical weapons are bad, okay? If you use them, we'll get really upset. And the White House press corps pawed its iPads, hardly able to type for the thrills shooting through their nervous systems at being in the presence of a leader they could truly respect for his compassion and wisdom.

But Obama and his teleprompter are far too elegant wordsmiths to get bogged down in red lines. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation,” Obama declared at one point, channeling his inner Stephen Hawking, but sounding more like a punchline from Big Bang Theory. Whatever changes have happened to Obama's calculus equations from the possible use or non-use of chemical weapons, the equation is still up there on the blackboard and it has no solution.

The idea that Obama has a red line governed by the number of people who are killed is slightly sillier than the plot of every big budget summer movie rolled together. As far back as his campaign, Obama made it clear that genocide in Sudan or the Congo was not a criteria for military intervention. But when Gaddafi took the initiative, Obama went to war in defense of a lovely peaceful city named Benghazi that the Nobel Peace Prize winner declared was on the verge of being exterminated.

What set one African country apart from another? Cynics might point to oil and race, but those are just elements of the larger calculus equation that makes Obama do things. It's his real red line that doesn't show up at press conferences because it doesn't sound good. The real red line has nothing to do with how many people die in Syria. It has to do with how those deaths slot into the larger agenda for the region.

That might be okay if the agenda were remotely coherent. It isn't. It might be okay if he didn't have a habit of saying stupid things and then flailing around afterward.

Obama allowed the thin red line myth to go forth and now he's stuck with it. The old liners at the Washington Post who still think that we're living in 1958 keep calling on Obama to show leadership. But how is he supposed to do that? He's not a leader. And even if he were, he certainly would not be their kind of leader. Or at least he is the kind of leader they deserve.

The left has a long history of marrying incompetence and malice. It excels at taking power and fails at trying to use it. It is good at convincing people of things, so long as those people are out in the streets shouting about jobs and food. It is quite capable of looting a country, but incapable of building it up except through the crudest brute force forms of industrialization that fail before too long.

Behind the big fat red line of the Soviet Union was a monstrous regime that got its ass handed to it by its Nazi allies in a hot war and then got its ass handed it to it again in a cold war by the United States. The United States saved the Soviet Union twice, once from famine and once from war and nearly saved it a third time economically. The Soviet Union had thoroughly infiltrated Western elites and even received nuclear weapons technology from them that it could use to destroy the world. And it still failed miserably.

Obama's red line leadership marries incompetence and malice. The left's big idea of dismantling American power leaves it with few ways of using American power. Like the idiot who campaigns against hammers only to realize he has no way of nailing up his anti-hammer posters, he is stuck between making empty threats that no one believes in and then having to either back down or nerve up and carry them through because the threats alone have no credibility.

The foreign policy establishment threw itself into the idea that the Arab Spring represented a historical movement that could not and would not be denied. (Except in Bahrain where the protesters were Shiites going up against the House of Saud which happens to own the White House mortgage.) The dictators, the ones without oil, were told that standing in the way of a historical movement of price protests hijacked by left-wing and Islamist mobs was futile. Either they would step down or the people would throw them down.

Gaddafi chose to test the force of history and won. And once it was clear that he was winning, the jets that no one thought of sending out to stop genocide anywhere in Africa were dispatched to protect that jewel of democracy, Benghazi, the heartland of the Libyan revolution. Now Assad is testing the farce of history. And while he isn't winning, he hasn't lost either.

Obama's real red line has nothing to do with how many Syrian civilians die. No one in Washington cares about dead Syrians. They care about who is going to win in Syria. Their credibility has been staked on a rebel victory. Their red line is a rebel defeat like the one that forced Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron to jump into the Libyan War on the pretext that they were protecting the civilians that they couldn't give a fig about anywhere else in Africa.

Dead civilians are worth a stringer's photo with the contrast enhanced to show the magnificent desolation of war. It's the sort of thing that Bush might have naively cared about, but we all know he was a moron who just wanted to start crusades, kill Iraqis and paint dogs. His far more moral successor only starts smart wars in defense of grand historical movements that globalist flat earthers like Thomas Friedman insist will usher in a new age in the old Middle East.

If Syria actually did use chemical weapons, then all it did was embarrass the emperor of peace by exposing the nakedness of his pretensions. The State Department hemmed and hawed and the occasion was seen as sufficiently drastic that the New York Times for the first time ever told the truth and admitted that there are no secular forces fighting in Syria. It's Assad or the Islamists.

It's nice of the Times to tell the truth on a Sunday to explain to its readers why the grand crusade for human rights that they were expecting hasn't begun yet. The pity of it is that by Tuesday, the Times will be back to talking about why we should be aiding the Syrian secular forces that it already admitted have the same level of material existence as the Easter Bunny, the moderate Muslim and the shovel-ready job.

But Times readers should be used to it by now. Clinton shrugged his shoulders at Rwanda and Sudan, but spent a good deal of time bombing Yugoslavia over false claims of genocide. It did not take very long for his ideological successor to do the very same thing in Libya. It doesn't matter how often George Clooney goes a week without shaving, shoots his cuffs and has his assistant chain him to the fence of the Sudanese mission, the right to protect is never going to show up over Sudan.

None of this is about human rights. It's not even about humans. It's about big pictures and even the
devoted readers of books about the Post-American world order still have their big pictures.composed of grand historical movements and massive chess games in which leaders can be raised and toppled, in which power can check power until a perfect stabilizing point is reached and the rest of the world decides to start killing its own babies, dismantling its own industry and dedicating all its efforts to turning out graduates with three degrees to teach small children about transgender identity.

That obviously isn't going to happen. The plan to turn over the region to the moderate Islamists worked out about as well as the plan to use the Ayayollah Khomeini as a stabilizing force in Iran. Fortunately believers in grand historical movements don't back off because they have been proven wrong. They don't stop when the bodies begin piling up. Instead they move forward certain that they are doing the right thing, even if the dimmest man alive would have figured it out by now.

The red line in Syria isn't chemical weapons or blood. It's ideology. It's the red-green alliance exacting its deadly toll while the Great Teleprompter squats behind his curtain making shadow puppets on the wall and telling self-deprecating jokes to the press corps that waits for leadership and worries that the dictator, the other dictator, has called his bluff and one of these days he is going to have no choice but to ante up or fold.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Snake in the Bloody Garden

By On April 28, 2013
The left has a clearly defined set of responses to a terrorist attack. After all the hopes for a properly right wing terrorist have come to naught, it begins the long slow process of rolling back the laws and emotional attitudes stemming from the attack.

For it, terrorism, like anything else, either fits into its narrative or conflicts with it. The narrative defines the world, past, present and future, in terms of the political agenda of the left. An event that clashes with the agenda must have its meaning changed so that the power of the narrative is restored.

Most violent attacks, from a street mugging to September 11, cause people to seek out security by combating the attackers. The left's task is to shift the narrative so that people see it in an entirely different way. The perpetrators become the victims by the trick of transforming the real victims into the real perpetrators. The lesson shifts from going on the offense to learning not to give offense.

The process is gradual and the playbook is infinite. Weapons of mass distraction are brought out. New villains are introduced and the emotional resonance of the events is drowned in ridicule. The tones are also many, from urging everyone to let love defeat hate to displays of virulent hate against the people "truly" stirring up trouble, but they all share a common agenda. Only the tactics vary.

Unlike the right, the left is systematic. It studies structures and people and plots its lines of attack accordingly. It pits emotion against emotion and law against law. It waits for the initial shock to fade before launching its first wave of attacks over process.

The left's honest response, the one that shows up on its Twitter feeds and in posts on its own sites, is that the country is overreacting. Some leftists will even be bold enough to say that we had it coming. But its public response is more discreet. It exploits the grief for its own ends, diverting shocked city residents into interfaith memorials, some of which are progressive enough to include denunciations of American foreign policy and vigils for the dead on both sides.

But even here, the left generally restrains itself. It waits until the weeks or months have passed to begin deadening the emotion surrounding the event with sarcastic remarks and jokes until the sacred becomes fully profane. It waits somewhat less time to begin lecturing the country on how our foreign policy made them hate us, knowing that in a contest between the establishment's narrative of inexplicable Islamic radicalization for unknown reasons and their narrative of American evil, they have the upper hand because they provide a realistic motive and the establishment does not.

Still this too comes later. The left knows that there is a window on human emotion. There is a time when people need to mourn and a time when they will feel a diminishing outrage and even begin to agree with observations whose thrust is that the United States of America is the real terrorist. And so there are things that the left will say on DailyKos and then on Salon that it will not say on CNN or the editorial page of the New York Times.

The editorials explaining how a lack of American support for Chechen independence led to the marathon massacre are coming. They just haven't splashed ashore in mainstream liberal newspapers yet. Timing is everything and the difference between the left of the counterculture and the left of the culture is that it knows what people will be willing to listen to and when. And it knows where to begin.

Against the horror of the bombing, the left juxtaposes the horror of police state. It pits the fear of terrorists depriving us of our lives and freedoms against the fear of the government doing the same. And considering the history of government abuses, it does not take long for this line of argument to make a compelling emotional dent in the responses of even many ordinary people to the attacks.

The left begins by raising all sorts of procedural questions about how law enforcement and the military are treating the enemy. It develops a burning conviction that our civil rights are the only thing about the country worth keeping. It hammers away at any law enforcement or military mistake, no matter how minor, and collects these together to amass a narrative of the police state.

At this stage the left puts on a show of maintaining its objectivity. It pretends that it is the principle that matters, not the perpetrator and most of those gullible people nodding along never notice that there is only one issue and two groups of perpetrators that this principle applies to: terrorists and leftist activists working in support of terrorists.

For months or even years, the left wraps itself in a Constitution that it does not believe in on behalf of those who want to abolish and destroy it.

The attacks on law enforcement and the military prove the left's core thesis that America is the oppressor and therefore deserving of terrorism. Whatever action, no matter how little, we take to defend ourselves proves that the terrorists were justified in attacking us. Even if all we do is lock up terrorists or shoot back at them when they shoot at us, the left will find enough grounds for indicting us as irredeemable monsters who deserve all that we have coming to us.

The left doesn't put it that way of course. It begins by asking us to believe that the terrorists are not attacking us, they are attacking our government, even if they keep murdering people who are by no means in the government. But once we have accepted the notion that the terrorists are justified in attacking our government, the left is then able to argue that we deserve to be attacked because living in a democracy, we elect our governments.

It's a neat trap that the left uses to turn questioning government policy into supporting terrorism.

That line of argument is cushioned at first. The left understands that arguments are won on emotion, not reason. It seeks out any family members of the victims who agree with its views and surrounds its spokesmen with them to give them moral sanction for their vileness. It emphasizes that understanding its theories is the only way to prevent another attack thereby making its negative tack seem positive.

And so the left moves from issues of process to polarity using our defense against terrorism to argue that the terrorists are only defending themselves against us. The arguments that seem initially untenable when the blood is still on the streets slowly sink in as baffled people try to come to terms with what happened.

All this is old hat for the left which has been excusing violence and revising history long before Islamic terrorism was an issue for anyone on this side of the Atlantic. Its tactics are polished and effective; though they would be far less so without the high ground of the media, the arts and the educational system, but the same could be said of any group. If David Icke had the unquestioning allegiance of 95 percent of media outlets and universities, most people would consider the existence of reptilians nothing more than common sense.

It is that very power which makes the narrative so insidious. The views of the streetcorner lunatic handing out pamphlets can be transformed in context without being transformed in content by the simple expedient of being read on the air in a sonorous voice by a news network anchor. But the greater insidiousness of the snake in the bloody garden comes from its ability to break up the narrative into stages to make it more palatable.

The left understands that it is working against natural emotions of loyalty and loss, and so it uses deception. It pretends to grieve, when it is sneering on the inside, and it pretends to want to help, when it is really seeking to destroy. It waits long enough to be able to pit the imaginary suffering of terrorists against the real suffering of their victims. It encourages its own brand of cynicism for the suffering of the victims and the heroism of their rescuers, while defending the sacred nature of the misfortune of its terrorists. It insists that its defense of terrorists in a time of terror invests it with a superior moral power and it uses that power to support terrorism.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Fire Burns

By On April 27, 2013
The circle of men whirls around the fire, hand in hand, hand catching hand, drawing in newcomers into the ring that races around and around in the growing darkness. A melody thumps through the speakers teetering unevenly with the bass, the sound is both old and new, a mix of the past and the present, like the participants in the dance, the traditional garments mixing with jeans and t-shirts until it is all a blur.

It is Lag BaOmer, an obscure holiday to most, even to those who come to the fires. The remnants of the Jewish Revolt against the might of the Roman Empire are remembered as days of deprivation in memory of the thousands of students dying in the war, until the thirty-third day of the Biblical Omer, part of the way between Passover and Shavuot, the day when Jerusalem was liberated.

Deprived of music for weeks, it rolls back in waves through speakers, from horns blown by children and a makeshift drum echoing an ancient celebration when men danced around fires and shot arrows into the air. The fires and bows have remained a part of Lag BaOmer, even when hardly anyone remembers the true reason for them.

The new Yom Yerushalayim, the day of the liberation of the city, is coming up soon,  but the old Yom Yerushalaim, came thousands of years ago and ten days before it on the calendar. Time is a wheel, and, like a circle, everything comes around again. Hands pulling on hands, years pulling on years, on and on like the orbits of planets and stars. The Divine Hand of G-d pulls us along, and we pull each other in the dance of life.

The circle speeds up, men racing faster and faster, the children left behind, as the flames sputter and night falls. The rebellion, although bravely fought, failed, and Jerusalem fell again, and then Betar. The joy of the celebration turned to ashes, but, even in the shadow of the empire, their spirit endured. The stories were changed a little, the rebellion encoded into a story of Rabbi Akiva, the pivotal scholarly figure in the war, and of his students who perished because they had not been able to get along with one another. The failure of unity had been the underlying reason for the Roman conquest and the Jewish defeats. It is the ancient lesson still unlearned that the circle of the dance teaches us.

Lag BaOmer is not the first Jewish story of physically and spiritual heroism to be encoded for fear of the enemy. There is much that we know, without knowing what it truly means, messages from the past, that exist only as echoes reminding us of our purpose. Few of those in the circle passing around the flame know what they are truly commemorating and yet the act is its own commemoration. Thousands of years later the echo of a fierce joy, the pride of a people emerging out of a momentary darkness in a burst of wild energy, is still here. Though the details are forgotten, the joy endures, the song is sung and the fire still burns.

In the darkness, there is nothing but the fire and the dark shapes racing around it, leaping with the guttering flames. A teenager pours oil on the flames and they rise higher and higher. A new song begins but they are all the same song. Even the new songs are old. The music changes, but the words remain the same. Arms rise and fall, feet kick and the participants run around the fire only to end up right back where they began.

Codemaking is a dangerous business, for the keys to the code can be forgotten. In Spain and in the American Southwest there are men and women who keep odd rituals, but who no longer remember that the reason they keep them is because they are descended from Jewish Conversos. They have lost the most important part of the code, the part that explains everything. The men dancing around the fire have not lost that. They may not remember the liberation of Jerusalem, but their feet remember it, their arms remember it, their hearts remember it and most of all they remember who they are. They retain the key to the entire code. They remember that they are Jews.

It all began with fire. Avraham was cast into the fire and emerged alive from the flames. Then Chananya, Mishael and Azariah. And then millions more turning to ash in the ovens only to rise again in a new generation. "Is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire," G-d asks Satan in the vision of the Prophet Zechariah. "But who may abide the day of his coming?" the Prophet Malachi says."And who shall stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire."

A piece of heavy wood chars, bright sparks rising into the night air. It is cool outside the ring of fire, but here it is painfully hot, the air thick with heat. The children gaze wonderingly at the sparks, flying up like tiny stars, their eyes recording the memory with a purer fidelity than any of the cameras outside the circle. Their minds will record the memory of the light, the feel of it on their skin and the awe of seeing something new for the first time. They will remember the circle and the fire.

The story of Moloch is the tale of men who worshiped the fire with the bodies of their children. But the children who race around the margins of this fire are the survivors of the servants of Moloch who tried to thrust their grandfathers and great-grandfathers into the flames. They will grow running around the flames from those who wish to thrust them into the fire, to burn away all that they are. Some will die, killed by Muslim terrorists or by other modern day servants of Moloch, but others will survive, and one day their children will race around the flames, defying the worshipers of fire, the worshipers of death, to do their worst to them.

The fire blazes up, tongues of flame darting toward us like the tongues of lions. This is the race we run around the flames that always burn, whether we see them or not. Year after year, generation after generation, and century after century, the fire burns, but we go on and no matter how many of us burn, we continue running the race with the flames, outpacing it, outlasting it and outliving it. No matter how many of us die, we still live.

A Talmudic recollection bemoans the Zoroastrian persecutions of the Jews. The notion today is as quaint as Assyrian chariots and Roman legions. The day will come when the Islamic persecutions are as obscure and laughable. When all the desert sands have covered over Mecca and the might and power of Islam are one with Assyria and Rome, with ancient pagan religions that have come and gone, blazing brightly like the flames, only to go out into the darkness, the dance will continue.

The men slow their steps, an ancient movement that the first wave of settlers to the Holy Land instinctively recreated. Dancing is a key that unlocks secret knowledge, that opens up buried memories, that turns the wheel of time back until it all becomes a circle that comes alive when it is closed. Despite the tremendous variations in customs and appearances, they have all unlocked the code of the circle, the hand to hand connection, the knowledge that whatever else we must go on. That the Jewish people must live.

The Bar Kochba revolt was not the last time that Jews fought to liberate their land. It was not the last time that the gates of Jerusalem were thrown open to a Jewish army. The liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 was the fulfillment of a struggle that had been going on for nearly two thousand years, as empires and caliphates had claimed the land, planted their spears and rifles over its barren hills, and enforced their laws upon it. And if Jerusalem falls again, if Masada falls again, if we fall into the fire, then we will rise out of it again, less in number, less in memory, but still a circle.

Fresh from battle, the soldiers danced around the flames. They had defeated the legions of Rome, without any special training and with poor equipment, they had beaten the greatest army in the world. They had survived the flames and in an explosion of joy, they raced around the celebratory fires, tasting the momentary immortality of battle. Their names are forgotten, lost to memory. Lag BaOmer is associated now with two of Rome's scholarly opponents, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who passed on the teachings and traditions that kept the circle intact even in the fire.

Wars are won and lost all the time. No victory, however significant, endures forever. There is no immortality in the victories of the flesh, only in the triumphs of the spirit. For all our losses, this circle is a victory, an ancient celebration of a spiritual triumph kept secret in the face of the enemy. The circle of clasped hands reminds us that against the dead hand of history, we have a Living Hand that guides us even in our darkest hours, in the smoke and flame, in the ash and fire.

"Know that your descendants will be strangers in a land not their own," G-d tells Avraham, as the sun goes down, and amid a thick darkness, a smoking furnace and a flaming torches passes between the parted pieces of the covenant. There is smoke and fire, a thick darkness, but as each hand in the circle clasps another, the pieces are joined together into one. The unity will not last. But it is a reminder of who we can be and who we should be when we join together. A reminder of the covenant with G-d and with one another.

The dance is difficult, not because it is hard to learn or do, but because it is tiring. Some fall out of the circle, but others join in. It is a mistake to dwell too much on how many come and how many go. To count the losses, while overlooking the gains. We were never meant to be a numerous people, to swell to an empire, rotten with corruption, choking on its own grossness, until it dies. It is easier to win the race with the flames when you are small and light on your feet. Some tire of the race and leave, and fall into the flames or the darkness and are gone. But we go on. We always go on.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Afternoon Roundup - All The World

By On April 26, 2013


After the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Obama asked, “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?”

In Obama’s speech, the willingness of the Tsarnaev brothers to kill the people of the country they had grown up in is a paradox. But it isn’t a paradox; it’s the point.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out the marathon massacre not because they were on the outside, but because they were on the inside. Islamic terrorism was their way of expressing their American identity. When they detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon, they weren’t doing it as Chechen Muslims, but as American Muslims.

There is a reason why second and third generation Muslims are more likely to turn terrorist than their immigrant parents. It is because they have become American, British, Canadian and Australian part of the way. They have gone deep enough to begin making a claim on the country. The Western Islamist seeks to align his internal Islamic identity and his external national identity by unifying them through Islamization.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were not fighting for Chechnya at the Boston Marathon. They were fighting against the American infidels who were barring the way to an Islamic America.

from my article Islam’s World War Came to Boston


The new soft power strategy was big picture. It had nothing to offer the Americans fighting and dying while waiting for help to arrive.

Al Qaeda understood soft power as a weakness. Unlike the decrepit Clinton policy wonks, it was not impressed by the old strategy of refusing to engage while hiding behind the drones that were standing in for Bill Clinton’s favorite terrorist-fighting cruise missiles. It understood that limited engagement was not some bright and new philosophy, but an unwillingness to take casualties and inflict collateral damage.

“We will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people,” Obama announced in the Rose Garden and the terrorists laughed. They laughed because they had support from within the Libyan government. They laughed because the Libyan government had obstructed the arrival of rescue teams and denied the use of armed drones over Libyan airspace.

What sounded like a reasonable statement to an American audience was actually an admission that Obama would not act unilaterally to go after the killers.

from my article When America Is Weak, Its Enemies Attack


Basri should have received the death penalty for the murder of 3 Christian schoolgirls. Basri said he and two others killed the girls and took their heads to the group’s headquarters as a “gift” to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Basri claimed he was sorry “not just from my mouth but from deep in my heart.” But he nevertheless joked and laughed as he described how it took two swipes of his machete to lop the head off one of the girls.

Hasanuddin allegedly returned from a visit to members of Philippines Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with tales of how that organisation regularly staged bombings to coincide with Lebaran, the festival that ends the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

However, after further discussion with friends, he decided that beheading Christians could qualify as an act of Muslim charity.

Indonesia Frees Muslim Terrorist Who Beheaded 3 Christian Girls as “Ramadan Present”


What do George Zimmerman and Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have in common? They’re both inconvenient minorities. Liberals assumed that Zimmerman was a white man who shot a black man based on his last name. His actual appearance and background were racially inconvenient.

Joan Walsh insists that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are white because they are from the Caucasus. But then again Aryans are from India. That leaves us no choice but to conclude that India is white. If we get really vague about boundaries, we can also include much of Asia and Iran. That whitens most of the human race which now consists of White-Chinese, White-Iranians and White-Indians.

Now it’s on to Africa. If white people originated from Africa, then by Joan Walsh’s infallible Caucasian logic, retroactively, the region must be white.

And now we’ve solved the great racial problem of the world. There are no more races. Only White-Africans, White-Asians and White-Europeans. Everyone is white now and everyone is privileged and everyone is racist.

White Hispanic is Old, White Chechen is New


To quote Obama at various times, it would be a “grave mistake”, would not be tolerated and “That would change my calculus.  That would change my equation.” All that sounds properly butch, but in true Obama fashion is also vague enough to mean nothing.  The red line is the line at which Obama’s calculus equation changes into a grave intolerable mistake or something.

The only absolutely compelling reason for intervention would be the sense that the Syrian rebels are about to lose for good. Panic at the possibility that Gaddafi would win is what compelled Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama to jump into the Libyan War. For now the Syrian rebels are nowhere near defeat.

Syria May Have Used Chemical Weapons and It Doesn’t Matter


Before the day is out, you’ll be hearing about the Muslim woman who was supposedly punched on the shoulder by a man in dark glasses who yelled something at her. And you’ll hear more about the Bangladeshi man who was beaten up by some Latino men angry about the massacre. These incidents and others, some real and some made up, will be rolled into the backlash narrative that has become the main concern after any act of Muslim terror

The Buddhist community in Burma, victimized by Muslim violence, has been holding up protest signs reading, “The world is not only for Muslims.”

That Buddhist message is something that Muslims ought to take to heart. The idea that Muslims are the center of the world is the privilege behind acts of terror like the Marathon Massacre.

When Muslims brandish signs reading, “Islam will dominate the world” or when they rush in to claim victimization right after a massacre, they are displaying the Muslim Privilege that is at the heart of their violence.

Muslims are not the only people in the world. They are not only people who matter. It’s not just their pain that counts. The pain of their victims counts too.

Muslim Privilege: Muslims Are the Real Victims of Marathon Massacre



Illegal Immigration is a Civil Right, says Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder does not believe that parents educating their own children counts as a civil right. He does however believe that illegal immigration is a civil right. The only question is when murder and rape will also be declared civil rights. After all they are outcomes of the hallowed civil right of illegal immigration, which means that they must be civil rights too.

A Voice for Facebook Values

What is even weirder is that Mark Zuckerberg, as part of an amnesty push coalition with Obama, is funding ads attacking ObamaCare in praise of Senator Lindsey Graham.

Essentially Obama Inc. is helping set up anti-Obama ads to make Senator Graham look good. A billion dollar liberal dotcom operating out of Menlo Park, California, is creating ads touting Graham as a voice for South Carolina’s conservative values.

 Ron Paul’s Board Includes Obama-Lover and Terrorist Supporter Who Compared Tea Party to Nazis

"People have a right to be angry, but throw in angry racists who don’t like Obama because he’s a man of color and people who just hate Democrats and Klu Klux Klan people and every kind of kook on the extreme right and you mishmash them all together and you get the Teabag movement," Margolis said. "

"The Republican Party may indeed split. I think that would be a very good thing. I would like to see all the right-wing crazies shipped off to North Dakota and to rant fulminate in the cold out there and leave Ron Paul’s sensible supporters."

 Pressure Cookers are the New Assault Rifles

 Joe Biden Delivers 1 Minute of Pure Stupidity at Boston Memorial


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, said his brother wanted to defend Islam from attack, according to the source.

Who at the Boston Marathon was attacking Islam? Was a 8-year-old boy at war with Islam?

To attack Islam is to prevent it from expanding. To be a non-Muslim is to be at war with Islam. To defend Islam is to kill non-Muslims.

In Islam, attack is indistinguishable from defense. To be a non-Muslim who insists on self-rule is to obstruct the peace of Islam. There can be no peace in the world as long as non-Muslims rule themselves in the Dar Al-Harb, rather than live as second class Dhimmis within the Dar-Al-Islam.

Islam is an identity. It treats any obstacles, including passive and unknowing obstacles, as active resistance. The active practice of any religion other than Islam is an attack on Islam.

The Boston Bomber’s Old “Defend Islam” Alibi


GE Capital got an inappropriate sweetheart deal from Obama Inc. for a $139 billion bailout. The misappropriated taxpayer money was leveraged to get GE to pursue programs that Obama Inc. favored. Apparently one of those programs is refusing to lend to gun stores.

What we are seeing is the political consolidation of big business into an arm of government with misappropriated taxpayer money being used to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, with the “winners” then doing the dirty work of the government and acting as its regulatory arm, destroying entire areas of business that the government has yet to be able to destroy on its own.

 GE Got $139 Billion Obama Bailout, Now Refusing to Lend to Gun Stores


If Thomas Friedman went stark raving mad, how would anyone tell? The man has written an entire book dedicated to the thesis that the earth is flat and responds to every major event by making up more words and trying to tie them into his globalized flat earth theory. No matter what happens, Friedman shoves into his feeder tube and out comes his randomly generated understanding of the universe.

The difference between Thomas Friedman and the cult leader waiting for the UFO is that the cult leader has some grasp of reality. Friedman does not. He blends the insipid treacle of a motivational speaker with a completely delusional worldview that he makes up as he goes along bolstered by politician style anecdotes of his world travels.

Thomas Friedman has never grown anything except a mustache and it shows. He tries to make up for this by using “incentivize” because he hears that’s what business people do. But all he’s doing is throwing out hollow cliches.

Thomas Friedman Recommends Fighting Islamism With Carbon Taxes


Obama sending out his political hit squad after Senators from his own party who dissented from him on one bill is creepy. The eternal campaign is not only being used to target Republicans, but it’s even being used to perpetrate “Night of the Long Knives” purges within his own party.

The Democratic Party is being radicalized by the far left. It’s hard to imagine that moderate Democrats like Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan or Senator Henry Jackson would have a place in a Democratic Party so radicalized that it is not only unable to tolerate moderate senators in New York or Washington, but that it can’t even tolerate them in red states where they are the only alternative to Republican senators.

Obama Campaign To Go After Pro-Gun Democratic Senators


The simplistic narrative of Islamist apologists is that Europeans or Americans have issues with Islam because it’s foreign. This relies on the old lefty polar division between nativism and tolerance. Either you like foreigners or you hate them. Either you are open to new things or you’re a reactionary bigot. And any criticism of Islam is filed into the latter category.

But the survey suggests that the French don’t have an instinctive dislike of other religions. They have issues with Islam for reasons that are rather obvious to anyone paying attention to Muslim violence and hate.

If concern about Islam is just a reactionary instinct to anything foreign, Buddhism would rank as poorly as Islam. At least it would rank more poorly than Christianity or Judaism. But the French, to everyone’s surprise, are tolerant.

French Have Positive Opinion of Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism, Negative Opinion of Islam


And at the risk of being accused of intra-cultural political xenophobia — that is, a hatred of the Other within the mainstream of purely American politics, a risk I’m more than happy to take — I am here today to announce that I am through considering these people part of a greater national we.  They, like the extremists they reward with teaching positions or defend against the yokels, the wingnuts, the small-government second amendment supporters and bourgeois small business owners they so vehemently and viscerally despise and seek to control and reshape, are the very Other they like to pretend they champion.

And having met their gaze — and having found it cold, cynical, manipulative, and tyrannical — I reject their claim to a separate and equal American authenticity.  In fact, I reject them entirely.
They are my enemies and the enemies to my children, to children like Martin Richards and his sister.  They are the enablers and the justifiers, the propagandists and the self-loathers, the liars and the fabulists.

What they want is power and control.  And if it takes humanizing Marathon bombers while laying blame on American culture to shame Americans into malleability as a precondition for their re-education into collectivist economic units, they are willing to make that trade off.  For the Greater Good.  For their vision of Utopia.

...from Jeff at Protein Wisdom: It's Time for a Cultural Divorce


Teeth-grindingly irksome is the increasing tendency of this culture to treat me like an idiot, lecture me, or both. My cell phone doesn't just tell me it's fully charged, it tells me to unplug from the charger "to save energy." Save it for what? A rainy day? What happens to all that "saved" energy? Where does it go? To the unfortunate poor in Haiti?

Even my teabags lecture me! Somehow, by drinking Lipton, I am helping the environment. What are they TALKING about? And no, I don't want to go to Lipton.com to "find out more." I just wanted a frigging cup of tea.

The problem with having a nanny state is that the private sector duly follows suit. Not only the universities but even private corporations now advertise how much they they value "diversity."

Nanny, Nanny, Go Away! at Boker Tov Boulder


Many who want us to think of them as “peacemakers” are saying we should be defending “moderate Islam” in order to save the world from the tyranny of “radical Islamists.” As a Christian, I am warned by Jesus against lukewarmness. The lukewarm will be spat out. I cannot defend lukewarmness in Christianity, and you want me to defend lukewarmness in Islam?

from Catholic Bandita


Peace is the goal of war. To accept a perpetual "war on terror" is to accept a plan for mere "management" rather than victory. The failure to plan for victory is the construction of a plan for defeat...

 2. Not Process But Victory Restores Freedom

An open-ended "war on terror," like a ‘war on drugs" invites a continuing erosion of small liberties. As this persists, once rare infringements on liberty become the norm. If it is to be the case that the shoes of all air travelers are to be inspected from now until the last ding-dong of doom, we will all be wearing sandals on airlines for the rest of our days. In this, many are correct to be wary of the long term effects of The Patriot Act.

Short of military conquest, a free society does not lose its freedom. Rather, freedom is lost through small infringements on liberty and dignity in the name of security. A perfectly safe state is a state without freedom. As our policies look to sustain rather than defeat our enemies, we are to that degree held hostage to both our policies and our enemies. When war is reduced to a process, that process becomes a self-renewing system in the same way that the "war on drugs" has become institutionalized in our lives; a normal part of the background noise that defines our days. A strategy based on "management," on diplomacy rather than victory, leads only to the establishment of internal organizations dedicated to their own perpetuation.

During the Civil War and the World Wars of the last century certain freedoms were, at times, curtailed, infringed or suspended. Following victory in 1945 these freedoms not only returned but even greater states of equality and liberty emerged. Had the Second World War ended in a negotiated stand-off at the Rhine and Okinawa, a state of war would have continued for an unknowable time and, in such a state, a less-free United States would have been a certainty. Only the destruction of the Axis powers yielded a peace out of which freedom surged, not only in America but in the lands of her former enemies as well. Victory yields freedom in peace. An armed process yields only stasis

...this is part of a much larger essay on the First Terrorist War well worth reading at American Digest

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Terrorism Without a Motive

By On April 24, 2013
Means, opportunity and motive are the three crucial elements of investigating a crime and establishing the guilt of its perpetrator. Means and opportunity tell us how the crime could have been committed while motive tells us why it was committed. Many crimes cannot be narrowed down by motive until a suspect is on the scene; but acts of terrorism can be. Almost anyone might be responsible for a random killing; but political killings are carried out by those who subscribe to common beliefs.

Eliminate motive from terrorism and it becomes no different than investigating a random killing. If investigators are not allowed to profile potential terrorists based on shared beliefs rooted in violence, that makes it harder to catch terrorists after an act of terror and incredibly difficult before the act of terror takes place.

The roadblock isn't only technical; it's conceptual. Investigations consist of connecting the dots. If you can't conceive of a connection, then the investigation is stuck. If you can't make the leap from A to B or add two to two and get four, then you are dependent on lucky breaks. And lucky breaks go both ways. Sometimes investigators get lucky and other times the terrorists get lucky.  

Federal law enforcement was repeatedly warned by the Russians that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was dangerous, but operating under the influence of a political culture that refused to see Islam as a motive for terrorism, it failed to connect the dots between Chechen violence in Russia and potential terrorism in the United States, and because it could not see Islam as a motive, as a causal factor rather than a casual factor, it could find no reason why Tamerlan was a threat not just to Russia, but also to the United States.

The missing motive factor has led to a rash of lone wolf terrorists whose acts are classified as individual crimes. Nidal Hasan's killing spree at Fort Hood was put down to workplace violence, but workplace violence isn't a motive, it's a bland description. The motive was obvious in Hasan's background and his behavior; but the military, an organization that by its nature has to be able to predict the actions of the enemy, had been crippled and left unable to see Islam as a motive.

The current working concept is that by refusing to allow our military and law enforcement to identify Islam as a motive, we are stifling terrorist recruitment by preventing Muslim from identifying terrorist attacks with Islam. This ostrich theory of terror assumes that if we blind ourselves to the motives of the terrorists, then potential terrorists will likewise be blinded to their own motives.

Any law enforcement protocol that prevents investigators from understanding the motives of the killers in the hope that this will take away that motive from the killers is absurdly backward. The investigators of terror are not the instigators of terror. A police detective arresting a rapist does not create rape. An FBI agent arresting a terrorist does not create terror. Identifying a crime does not create the crime. It makes it easier for law enforcement and the public to fight that crime.

The insidious infiltration of blowback theory into terrorist investigations has dangerously subverted the ability of investigators to get to the truth and to catch the terrorists. Blowback theory assigns each act of Islamic terror an origin point in our actions. Everything that Muslim terrorists do is caused by something that we did. To those who believe in this linkage, the only way to fight Muslim terror is to stop inspiring it. The only way to defeat Islamic terrorism is to defeat ourselves.

Blowback theory has been dressed up in academic language and expert jargon, but all it amounts to is Stockholm Syndrome with a lecture hall. Its essential postulate is that if we become more passive in our responses, a strategy that is usually described with the complementary term, "smart", as in "smart war" and "smart investigation", then the enemy will become more passive in response to our passivity because we are no longer inspiring his violence.

Smart wars and smart investigations are those that don't offend Muslims. The cost of the smart war in Afghanistan has been a very expensive and bloody defeat. The cost of the smart investigation can be seen in the streets of Boston or in Fort Hood.

Any smart tactic based on inaction and ignorance, on throwing away advantages to seem less provocative, is not smart; it's stupid. When things go unsaid because they are politically incorrect, then they will eventually go undone. And when they are both unsaid and undone, then it becomes impossible to think them. The concepts fade out of reach, the connections in what, Hercule Poirot, called the little grey cells, are no longer made and what was once a familiar mental shortcut becomes an entirely alien concept.

Defeating ourselves in order to defeat Islamic terrorism is a dead end because we are not the source of that terrorism; we are its target. When we handicap ourselves out of a misguided notion that the best way to fight terrorism is with one hand tied behind our backs and an eyepatch on one eye, then Americans die.

Islamic terrorism, once the starting point of any rational investigation, has become an uncomfortable endpoint uttered by uncooperative suspects who refuse to go along with the stress-motivated killing spree defense their lawyers are eager to put forward for them. It is the dark thing at the end of every investigation that politicians don't want to talk about, reporters don't want to write about and prosecutors grow reluctant to discuss for fear of offending judges and stifling career prospects.

Without Islam as a motive, there is no way to fight the larger threat except as a discrete collection of seemingly random events. What connects a Tamerlan Tsarnaev to a Nidal Hasan to Ahmed in Jersey City or Mohamed in Minneapolis plotting the next attack? The official answer is nothing. One was a boxer and another was an army doctor and the third is just an Egyptian student or a Somali bank clerk. They have no motive in common except that of Islam.

Motives identify links. They make it easier to stack events together as a trend. They make it possible to predict the next attack by looking at the common denominators that matter as opposed to the ones that don't. And above all else, they combine together to give us a rational picture of the world so that we understand what we are experiencing and what we have to do about it.

A man dropped onto a battlefield without having the concept of an army or a war will be bewildered and horrified by the incomprehensible experience of large numbers of individuals shooting at him for no reason. "Why do they all want to kill me?" he thinks. "Was it something I did?"

Crime is personal. War is impersonal. The murderer has personal motives for his actions, but the motives of the soldier are irrelevant. In war, it is the organization that matters more than the individual. Wasting time predicting the movements of individual soldiers instead of armies is not productive. Attempting to understand terrorists as individuals, rather than members of a mass movement is equally a waste of time.

Media accounts have presented various exculpatory motives for Tamerlan Tsarnaev ranging from the possible head injuries he may have suffered as a boxer to the murder of a best friend that investigators suspect he may carried out. All these motives are irrelevant, not because they may not have some figment of truth to them, but because they stopped mattering once he became what he was. One soldier may join the army because his girlfriend broke up with him, another  because he lost his job and a third because he wants to impress his friends. Those motives may all be true, but they don't matter. Once organized into a collective, their individual motives stop mattering and the collective motive takes over.

Islamic terrorism is a collective motive. There is limited variation in the tactics and the thinking of terrorists. Whatever they may have been before they fully committed themselves to the war against civilization is an incidental matter. And the only piece of individual identity that matters is still the collective one of their Islamic background. That is still the greatest predictive factor of terrorism.

The Islamic terrorist abandons his individuality and takes on an identity that asks him to love death more than life. His motives are no longer personal, but collective. He is a soldier in the Islamic war against civilization. His marching orders may come from Jihadi videos and magazines, but they provide him with training and an esprit de corps sufficient to the purposes of his campaign of terror. To strive to understand him as a father or a son, as a boxer or a doctor, is a waste of time. These biographical footnotes no longer represent him. They are the things he has discarded to become a messenger of death in obedience to a faith that values death more than life.

Without understanding that, the terrorist becomes a cipher, another nice young man who suddenly
turned violent, and the trend of terrorist attacks ceases to be a pattern and becomes a rash of horrifying incidents that can happen at any time.

Terrorism is a form of war. It cannot be won without understanding that there is a battlefield and an enemy fighting for control of that battlefield. Without that understanding, our superiority in strength and our possession of the battlefield can only result in a temporary stalemate leading to a permanent defeat. 

Terrorism denial turns terrorist attacks into a cipher without a motive. If Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev had not carried out their attack at a public event in the age of the ubiquitous camera, then how long would law enforcement have chased down dead ends or searched for the Tea Party tax protesters that the political establishment expected them to find?

Without a motive, there is no place to begin searching. Without Islam, there is no motive. Terrorism denial isn't just an intellectual error; it is a grave danger to the lives of Americans. Terrorism denial created a space in which the Tsarnaev brothers were free to plot and kill. Terrorism denial cost the lives of three Americans and the bodily integrity of hundreds of others. Denying the Islamic motive for terror, makes it harder for law enforcement officer to do their job and easier for Muslim terrorists to do theirs.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Muslims Kill

By On April 23, 2013
The murderer is the new celebrity. He emerges out of nowhere with a rags to mass murder story, and is swiftly accorded all the trappings of fame. Reporters track down anyone who knew him to learn about his childhood and his main influences. Relatives and friends both contribute fuzzy anecdotes, mostly indistinguishable from the ones they would present if he were competing on American Idol or running for president.

The disaffected form fan clubs around him. The experts discuss what his rise to fame means. Books are written about him and then perhaps a movie. And then it ends and begins all over again.

The Tsarnaev brothers, the living one and the dead one, are already receiving that treatment. Like most murderers they have already become more famous than their victims. More famous than the rescuers. The original Tamerlane is better known than any of his countless victims. The new one is already eclipsing his victims. Before long one of those Chechen bards whose videos he tagged into his playlist on YouTube will write a ballad about the Boston massacre and the circle will be complete.

That ballad, murderous and vile, will still be more honest than most of the media coverage about the two Chechen Muslims has been. The media's coverage is weighed down by its old fetish of murder as celebrity. The media covers murderers and celebrities in the same way. It writes exhaustively about them, but rarely meaningfully. The murderer, like the celebrity, is famous for being famous. And fame clips context and suppresses meaning. It becomes its own reference. A thing is famous for being known. It is known for being famous. It enters the common language as a reference. A metaphor.

In the case of the Tsarnaevs, the surface coverage, the endless rounds of interviews with friends and relatives, with anyone who ever met them or retweed them, is mandatory because it avoids the more difficult question of why they killed.

The better news outlets answer with convenient terms like "radicalization" or "self-radicalization" and much of the public, primed to react to meaningless political jargon as if it had meaning, will think that they understand. A radical, they know, is a bad person, except for a brief period when surfers and ninja turtles could use it and still be good people. They don't quite know why that is, but they also don't know why high debt is good for the economy or why Islam is a religion of peace.

Radical and extremist are convenient terms for dismissing people and subjects without discussing them. Mental shortcuts like that can be convenient. No one really wants to spend every waking moment debating the people who think that the moon landing was faked or that we are ruled over by miniature T-Rex's who somehow look just like people. But when the body count gets high enough, dismissing it as extremism or radicalism doesn't hold up. The question must be discussed.

The experts point to foreign policy, but Muslim violence began a thousand years before the United States existed as an independent political entity. The younger Tsarnaev sibling scrawled something about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, prompted or unprompted, but Iraq is yesterday's news and America is in Afghanistan because of the Muslim attacks of September 11. We can keep retracing every event and connecting it to a prior event, but the constraints of history will swiftly take us back to before Independence Hall, Columbus and for that matter the English language.

If we are to flounder looking around for a first cause, we must either fetch up against the founding of Islam or try to make a case for Islamic violence predating Islam. Neither is very tenable. Dzhokhar can claim that he and his brother were defending Islam by murdering an 8-year-old, Hitler claimed that he was defending Germany by invading Poland and Japan is still waiting around for South Korea to thank it for protecting it from Western imperialism.

Prisons are full of 300 pound men who beat their 90 pound wives to death in self-defense and spree killers who felt bullied and misunderstood and defended themselves with killing sprees. The kind of evil we see in movies, the serial killer who gleefully whisper about demonic pacts and the joy of killing, are a rarity. Even human monsters are human. They explain things in terms of their egos. They are always defending themselves against some form of oppression and looking for someone to sympathize with their outrage.

Muslim terrorists are no different. The Taliban just poisoned a girls school as part of their campaign to defend Afghanistan from women who can read and write. Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus in defense of Palestine. Tamerlan Tsarnaev put down a bomb next to an 8-year-old boy in defense of Islam.

Islam, as one of the great world religions, has a long history of needing to be defended against small boys, blind female poets and elderly cartoonists. Sometimes Muslims have to defend Islam against each other, the way they are now doing in Syria. Other times defending Islam requires demolishing its archeological sites, the way that the Saudis are doing. Either way defending Islam is difficult work.

Everyone in a war usually claims to be defending against something. But the younger Tsarnaev was not really angry about Afghanistan or Iraq. He wasn't defending them. He was defending Islam. If you want to defend Afghanistan, then all you have to do is board a plane to Pakistan and then make the right contacts and find your way across the border to join a band of likeminded fellows fighting to defend your new country from women who can read. But to defend Islam, you can stay at home in Boston and kill little boys..

What is this thing called Islam? We can call it a religion, but that doesn't tell us much. Defining religion is a famously tricky affair. The bombmaking instructions in Al Qaeda's Inspire magazine begin by telling the would-be defender of Islam that the key ingredient in building a pressure cooker bomb, like the one used at the Boston Marathon, is trust in Allah. There is a kind of faith in that, but it's more like the kind of prayer you expect to hear Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson utter to a god that they made in their own murderous image. Serial killers praying to a patron deity of serial killers to help them murder little boys in defense of a religion whose faith is in the murder of little boys.

But the whole thing need not be all that mysterious. Western man spent much of the last century threatening to fight to the death over the political and economic system that he would live under. Dispense with the label of religion and the sight of two angry young men setting off bombs in an American city is not all that alien. Neither is their motive.

There are two Islams that we can conceive of; the private and the public. It is it not difficult to see which of these the Tsarnaevs were defending. Despite the morbid fantasies of the real Islamophobia industry, practiced by CAIR and the left, no one was holding down either of the brothers and shoving pork in their mouths or forbidding them from reading the Koran. The government has carved out broad swaths of entitlements for Islamic religion in a country where Iftar is celebrated in the White House and the Department of Justice sues any store that thinks twice of frowning at a Hijab.

It's the public Islam that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were defending. The private Islam forbids Muslims to eat pork or drink liquor  The public Islam bars pork or liquor from being sold. The private Islam tells women to cover their hair. The public Islam establishes an entire system of police and judges to compel them to cover their hair.

Western liberals like to think of Islam as a private religion, in the tradition of most of its extant religions, but it isn't. Islam cannot function for very long as a private religion just as Communism could not function for very long as a private experiment on a few communal farms. It is an all or nothing system. Its fundamental expression is public. In private, it withers and dies.

The private Islam need not be defended with bombs. The public Islam must be. And as with so many totalitarian systems, when it speaks of freedom, it means slavery, when it talks of peace, it means war, and when it claims defense, it means attack.

Why did Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonate bombs at the Boston Marathon? They were engaged in an old disagreement over political systems. Terrorists of the left set off bombs to force a political revolution. Their Islamist fellow-travelers are doing the same thing. Dig away enough of the trappings of the celebrity murderer and you come to the ideas buried underneath all the rubble.

The Tsarnaevs are not the first terrorists to kill Americans in the name of a political idea. If they are radicals and extremists, than so are the likes of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. What difference is there between the radicals who detonated bombs to impose the rule of the left and those who detonate bombs to impose the rule of Islam?

When it comes to the Weather Underground, the media is eager to discuss their ends, but not their
means. And when it comes to the Tsarnaevs, the media will discuss their means, but not their ends. Dealing with the violence of the left would only make the left look bad. And dealing with the agenda of the terrorists would make the left's plan for a multicultural society seem unworkable. It would make it clear that terrorism is not random, but a violent means of imposing an idea. And it is the idea that is the issue.

If we are going to discuss Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, let us spend a little less time on their endless parade of relatives and former friends, and a little more time on the idea in whose defense they chose to kill and maim so many. Let us discuss Islam, not just as an abstract idea, but as a concrete political system. Let us discuss it the way that we discuss the plans and platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties. Let us look at Saudi Arabia, at Pakistan and at the new Egypt to see what this thing that the terrorists would like to impose on us is.

Despite thousands dead, a searching examination of that sort is exactly what the media would like to avoid. It does not want another "Better Red than Dead" or "Better Dead than Red" debate. It wants us to speak of foreign policy as an isolated American act and of random violence as arising from thin air. It does not want us to understand the nature of the struggle. It does not want us to know why we die. It is determined to keep from us the reason why Muslims kill.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Tribal War in Boston

By On April 22, 2013
Terrorism, like urban crime, is one of those things that you're not supposed to think about too much. It's fine to talk about your emotions after a bombing or a mugging. You can even share stories and eventually learn to laugh about it. What you cannot do is talk about where it comes from except in the vaguest terms of social conditions. Like pollution from industry or corruption from government, it's one of those toxic spinoffs of our modern society. It's just there and we don't much talk about it.

Islamic terrorism is considered a social problem in Europe. Ask an expert and they'll talk your ear off about unemployment, racism, overcrowded housing and the same long list of reasons used to explain urban crime. The United States is slowly coming around to that same point of view.

Forget the great debate between whether people kill people or guns kill people. The conclusion reached by most governments before your grandfather was born is that social conditions kill people.

The Tsarneav brothers are being talked about in the same way that most serial killers are. "They were so nice. What made them do it?" It's the empty repetition of a question to which no one really wants to hear the answer. "What could have made them do it?" isn't a genuine question, it's a ceremonial washing of the hands. A ritualistic statement that we couldn't have known anything was wrong. How could we? They were so nice.

Tamerlan Tsarneav slapped around one girlfriend, dragged another into a barefoot, pregnant and veiled arrangement, and went around telling everyone they were infidels. Sure he might have settled down at some point, picked up his membership card in the requisite front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood and limited his terrorist activities to donating to Islamic charities that just happen to do business in the middle of war zones. He could have stuck to beating his wife in the privacy of his home and told his neighbors that America would one day be destroyed knowing they would only nod and walk away humming, "But he's so nice".

The United States is full of moderate Muslims just like that. They are the people politicians point to as proof that not all Muslims are terrorists, just the ones who actually blow up things.

Tamerlan Tsarneav was indeed a social problem, but not the one most liberals think he is. He wasn't unemployment, racism or lack of parking spaces. He was the social problem we don't talk about because it's off limits. The empty space in the narrative. The one that terrorism comes from.

The Europeans would talk about integration. But what was there for Tamerlan to integrate to? A coterie of white academics looking to get jobs on climate change commissions? A rainbow coalition of minorities taking pride in victimization while demanding their piece of the pie? And who was he? American? What does being American mean? Chechen? Who are they? They're Muslims. They're killers. When being American got too hard, Tamerlan rolled the dice and they came up Chechen. They came up Muslim. And we all know the rest of the story.

Eurocrats worry endlessly about how many Tamerlans in London, Paris and Oslo roll those dice only to see them come up Pakistani, Algerian and Somali. But they can't talk about what's wrong with that.

Back in the Tsarneav homeland, clans fight each other to the death, wiping out entire families to the last child. Here is a brief description of one man's vendetta. "He wanted to kill off all the men in the other family, and he devoted his life to that goal. He would hide someplace where he thought one of his enemies might pass by, staying there for weeks at a time if necessary. In the end, he killed about 20 people."

That should sound familiar to anyone who sat in front of the television watching the aftermath of the Boston bombings. And here's another. "The oral tradition abounds in tales of feuds sparked by the theft of a chicken culminating in the death of an entire Teip." What is a Teip you might ask. A Teip is a Chechen clan. Everyone has one in Chechnya including foreigners. To have a place in the society, you must have a Teip of your own. Otherwise. "This man has neither a Teip nor a Tukkhum."

Where was Tamerlan's Teip in America? Americans don't talk about their Teips. Instead Tamerlan found the same Teip that so many other Pakistanis, Egyptians, Somalis and other Muslim immigrants find when they live in a non-Muslim country. Tamerlan's Teip, like Nidal Hasan's Teip, was Islam.

Tamerlan took possession of his Teip. And then he began to kill on behalf of his Teip. You can call it the Clash of Civilizations or a clash of clans. At the Boston Marathon, the Tsarneav brothers began killing the members of the Boston Teip or the American Teip in defense of the honor of the Islamic Teip. We can call this sort of thing terrorism, and it is, but it's also something much more primitive and much less calculated.

The Afghan soldiers murdering American soldiers often do it unprompted and sometimes even without any prior planning. They do it because in tribal cultures honor is complicated and murder is casual. Life is cheap, especially the lives of men without teips.

Americans were under the impression that Tamerlan was a member of Teip America. He wasn't. Teip America is fine for some some natives, but it was much too big for him. It had no shape or purpose. Nothing for him to claim possession of and defend. Teip America gave him everything for free and wouldn't even let him fight to take it. Teip America gave him the good life, but took away his honor.

But what does all this Teip talk have to do with the modern world? It is an article of faith that any number of people can come to this country and bring their diverse Teips with them, and aside from some picturesque native foods and unique post-colonial grievances, they all become part of the tapestry of Teip America.

Chechnya is a modern place now. Sure it has warlords, kidnappings and Sharia punishments, but who are we to judge them? And Tamerlan Tsarneav grew up in the United States. What could the crazy backward mores of his society, which we mustn't judge, have anything to with his killing spree? There are more relevant things that we could talk about, like race, class and the availability of parking spaces in Boston.

Even now the politicians begin trooping down to the local mosque to press the flesh with the "moderates" who are the last best hope for preventing another marathon massacre. But what is an American mosque really? Some are still mono-cultural, dominated by Lebanese, Turkish or Bangladeshi immigrants. Many however are more expansive. They are artificial Teips based on religion, rather than nationality or race. Their existence is innately Islamist.

The American mosque is an outpost of tribal Islamism. It's an artificial community that primes members of tribal cultures to identify with and defend a religious Teip. That is the system that the Saudis have invested a good deal of money into building because it provides them with an endless flow of cannon fodder.

We are not a melting pot or a beautiful tapestry of diversity. What we are is often something more prosaic. Clans. The clans may be broadly defined, but they are still there and if you doubt it, then go try an urban neighborhood that you are not meant to walk. The clan structure is weak and the leaders are often absent. Some clans are full of single mothers and itinerant male warriors. Others are traditionally patriarchal. Some clans form alliances based on language, geography or religion.

That is multiculturalism. It is a clumsy alliance of Teips pretending to represent all the Teips.
Multiculturalism, like most forms of liberal consensus, shut out any contradictory realities. But there are Teips here other than the coalition of community groups united to demand more money for social services centers. There are older Teips in America that come from the desert and the mountains. Teips that care nothing for building more LGBT youth centers and a great deal about honor and territory.

Tamerlan found his Teip in Islam. So have many Islamic terrorists and political Islamists. Their Teip is not one that we talk about. It is the Teip that is at war with all the other Teips. It is at war with the basic idea of Multiteipism that the entire broken system it is trying to topple over is based on. And the story is the same in Europe. It is the same in Canada. It is the same in Australia.

It is the same everywhere.

We can't talk about this of course because we are modern people and we know that's not how things work. We know that we are lucky to be living in a society with such rich diversity. Our diversity is our strength. The more divided we become, the stronger we will be. And if occasionally bombs go off or heads fly or planes crash into skyscrapers, we will walk away muttering, "But he was so nice." 


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